Scoliosis Therapy Centers


How Effective is Bracing Therapy for Scoliosis?

ByVivian McNeil


Many studies discuss the effectiveness of scoliosis therapies for treating adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). However, few of these studies help parents understand how to help their child with a scoliosis diagnosis. Years of medical research and highly credible data exist about AIS, but what does it all mean for a parent looking to help their child with scoliosis therapy?

Below, we share the main points from a study to give parents a simple understanding of what happens when their child has scoliosis. This white paper was published on May 15, 2021, with updated information that parents can find helpful.

The study mentioned throughout this article is “The Effectiveness of Different Concepts of Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” from the Journal of Clinical Medicine. 

Important Studies for Scoliosis Bracing Therapy 

Before exploring the study and findings of AIS, let us define the important terms you will see in the white paper. Most of these words relate to the spinal skeletal maturity of the pelvic area. Readers should know that the spine rests directly on the sacrum bone, which the pelvis supports.

The Risser Staging System: 

Dr. Joseph C. Risser (1892 – 1982) was monumental in treating scoliosis. Risser recognized that the abnormal bone formation and tendon inflammation of the pelvic area (ossification of the iliac apophysis) closely relates to the patient’s spinal skeletal maturity. From 1958, clinicians referred to the gradual maturity of the pelvic bone structure as the Risser sign. The Risser Staging System in the United States measures four stages, while the Risser Staging System in France measures five. These measurements play an essential role in how doctors treat adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The white papers refer to these measurements in different sample sizes.

Doctor talking to kid with Scoliosis

The Tanner Staging System: 

Dr. James Tanner was a British pediatrician. In 1969, he established a staging system for girls as they progressed through puberty. We can also refer to this staging system as Sexual Maturity Rating or SMR. The Tanner grade has five stages and shows various stages of development in boys and girls. It can make a difference in how doctors and therapists treat AIS.


Ossification is an abnormal bone formation where soft tissues become calcified and hardened. Calcified means a soft area near the bone becomes hard.

Iliac Apophysis: 

This term refers to an inflammation around the tendon areas near the front of the pelvis. Here, it refers to inflammation of the tendons in the front pelvic area. The inflammation could be from injury or irregular growth of the child.

Why Doctors Conduct Research on Scoliosis Bracing Therapy 

Any parent whose child has scoliosis understands the challenging lifestyle their child faces. Besides the pain and treatment from the progression of scoliosis, there are potential negative social elements too. Scoliosis impacts teenage boys and girls. It can impact their social life negatively, affecting friendships and meaningful relationships. Patients may find it hard to fit into proper clothing because of their uneven shoulders and may cover up during the hot summer.

Since the Lyons Brace in 1948, doctors and therapists have been trying to develop a non-invasive approach to treating scoliosis. Now, scoliosis specialists use several non-invasive ways to treat and correct adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, such as Schroth therapy and scoliosis bracing therapy. The question remains whether wearing a brace full-time is effective for adolescents.

Although doctors like Dr. Jacques Chêneau and Dr. Emanuel Rigo have created comfortable braces, scoliosis treatment can still be challenging as patients must wear most braces all day. The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the University Medical Center Utrecht created a research team to investigate the effectiveness of scoliosis bracing therapy. The findings would justify brace therapy as a treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

How Experts Conducted the Study

The research team used a variety of scoliosis braces to give credibility to the study. Orthotists wanted a full and fair picture of different braces and weren’t biased toward any one. The SpineCor brace was soft and worn full-time, and patients wore the Charleston and Providence braces at night only. 

Scoliosis patient being checked out by a doctor

The study included 23 to 843 patients, and each study had multiple braces. Every patient received a specific brace, and the researchers entrusted them to wear their respective brace throughout the treatment period.

Orthotists looked at the progression of spinal curvatures of each patient after using scoliosis bracing therapy. In the study, orthotists measured success as a curve progression of 5 degrees or lower during the follow-up appointment after receiving brace therapy. For example, a patient with a 20-degree spinal curvature before and no greater than a 25-degree curvature after treatment would be considered successful. The ideal treatment plan for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis results in a normal Cobb angle of 10 degrees or lower. 

The Results of the Study

The results showed overwhelming success for the benefits of scoliosis bracing therapy

Three studies used the Boston brace, with 169 patients receiving treatment with this device. The Boston brace had an average success rate of 67%.

In another four studies, patients used the Rigo-Cheneau brace, and researchers saw a success rate of 80%. The Rigo-Chêneau brace was very successful in treating lumbar curves. The Progressive Action Short Brace (PASB) had a success rate of 65.6% to 100% for 69 and 163 patients in two different studies. The Lyon brace reported a success rate of 99% for 69 patients.

Based on these successes, scoliosis bracing therapy is effective for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. While you cannot completely cure scoliosis, wearing a brace from a young age can help adolescents avoid surgery.

Scoliosis therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can help your child improve their quality of life and avoid the physical challenges of scoliosis progression. The study proves that multiple braces can significantly improve the symptoms of scoliosis and reduce spinal curvature and its progression. Your child can enjoy their activities and daily routine like before the diagnosis.

How Scoliosis Therapy Centers Can Help

All the brace therapy studies prove that scoliosis bracing therapy is an effective treatment for scoliosis patients. The rigid braces were more effective than the soft braces, and results show that wearing the brace full-time is better than wearing it part-time. Although it can be challenging to get used to wearing a brace in the beginning, most adolescents get used to it in a few weeks. 

It’s especially worth noting that when comparing the TLSO brace (thoraco-lumbo-sacral othosis) to the Rigo-Chêneau brace, 34% of patients needed surgery with the TLSO brace, while no patients needed surgery after using the Rigo-Chêneau. 

Other findings show that bracing therapy is most effective in the Risser stages 0-2 and 0-3 of bone maturity. As the skeletal maturity stage increases, the effectiveness of scoliosis bracing therapy decreases. It is essential that adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients get treatment immediately to fully embrace the highly successful long-term effects of scoliosis bracing.

It’s important to talk to your child’s doctor about whether your child should get scoliosis bracing therapy. A local scoliosis specialist can also work with your family to provide expert advice on the best approach for treating scoliosis and how to measure success in their case. 
Contact us to discuss how you can help your child live to their full potential and allow them to enjoy the activities they love. Find a scoliosis specialist nearby and start your kid on the right treatment immediately.

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